Oh, the beautiful gifts, all wrapped with care with the perfect bow and tag to know where it goes. Well, the gifts I give are usually tucked in a gift bag with some tissue paper or wrapped with no pattern and so much tape! Wrapping gifts is not one of my talents. I am still working to find my hidden talent, and I know it will show up someday!
We had my husband's sibling's birthday and Christmas celebration this past week. Trying to get all the packages out in the pouring rain was a difficult job, and I was soaked by the time I got through the door. So no one cared about how the bags looked as they saw us all coming to the restaurant.
Reflecting on the previous year, it was the same table we were at, in the same restaurant, and doing the same thing only a week sooner than the year before. My mind flashed back for a moment or two as we approached the table, sitting down all of the gifts.
Last year I asked everyone to listen for a moment as I wanted to tell them something we had just been told. Now, before I share the news, I want to explain we will celebrate just the same.
The doctor called just an hour ago. My test results came in, and I had to be told. I have breast cancer, and I will see several doctors as soon as Christmas is over to determine treatments and the level of cancer I have.
This year we began with the birthday celebration of singing, opening gifts, eating dinner, and then Christmas gifts along with Birthday cake. Two of the gifts I have received so far are very thoughtful and meaningful as we continue to move forward with a new year ahead.
In January, I will complete a bone density test to see the progression of the harm to my bones with the current daily medication I take, and then a new mammogram with ultrasounds to look at the other mass to check for any changes. I am sure a biopsy will be part of the plan.
Currently, I am cancer free. It is the best way to be. I plan to stay this way—Celebrating on Christmas Day! I have rung the bell, I believe, and I know all things are possible with faith and prayer.
Look at these two beautiful gifts I received from my “sisters”-in-laws and one more still to come.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10)
One of my favorite things to do is to give gifts to others. I do not get carried away with wrapping, cards, and all that stuff; I hand the items out most of the time. They are little gifts, some more significant gifts, and sometimes gifts no one knows about.
Giving gifts comes from the deep roots of my childhood. My parents were simple, kind, and humble. I can not think of a time we were not making, doing, or giving something to someone. We had two little ole ladies who visited our home each week to bring eggs. I was a little girl then, and they sometimes got something for me. They would come in through the back door and sit at the table. My mother would often give them noodles she had made with eggs. (I think this is why I have everyone come to my back door and sit at my table in the kitchen/dining area, it feels like home.) I can still see the smiles and hear the sounds of laughter.
I probably give more than I should, and sometimes people think there has to be a catch; nothing is free in life. I shopped with my mother often, and we always bought the items on sale or at reduced costs. I knew we could afford higher-cost things because, at a young age, I managed the checkbook. The lesson being taught was the price tag on items does not make them better. “Never judge based on cost, the shiny look, the label, but understand the value of saving money.” These are not my mother’s exact words, but they are pretty close. My dad taught me the same things about people. “You do not know their story until they read it to you.” My father spoke to everyone; yes, I mean everyone. I get my gift of talking from him. I love to talk to people. I so want them to tell me the stories they want to share. If we could all share more, we would learn and care more.
One of the lessons I have learned about sharing is to be careful of how it will affect others. Clarification of this statement in terms of leadership is in the hidden costs of gift-giving and sharing. Here are a few examples:
If you have been with a building for several years and begin something that develops into a tradition, your funding source may need to be transparent if you leave the position. How can the new leader replicate this program or project without funding? Making sure you have a funding source that can remain in place even after you are gone is the best way to give. As I continued my journey, I corrected myself by ensuring the funding sources would continue if I were no longer in my position.
When making decisions, you must follow the guidelines but advocate as much as possible for the human factor in those areas that are not always crystal clear.
The human factor is always so important when making decisions. Keep in mind those areas which need the flexibility to help those in need.
I want to thank my followers for giving me the gift of your time, the value of your thoughts, and the appreciation of your kindness. Every day I write for you and pray I provide you with something you need. As we approach the time of year with the most significant gift-giving, can I tell each of you how much I appreciate your gift to me each day. Merry Christmas and blessings to all!